Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
signed and dated 'Barbara Hepworth/61' (lower right), signed again, inscribed and dated again 'Barbara Hepworth/Pelagos 1961' (on the reverse)
pencil and oil on gesso-prepared board
18 x 22 in. (45.7 x 55.8 cm.)
with Gimpel Fils, London, where purchased by the present owner, August 1964, for 185 guineas.
London, Gimpel Fils, Barbara Hepworth, May - June 1961; the Drawings for Sculpture 1960-61 in this exhibition were nos. 27-37. Copenhagen, British Council European Tour, Kunstforeningen, Barbara Hepworth, September - October 1964, no. 37: this exhibition travelled to Stokholm, Moderna Museet, November - December 1964; Helsinki, Ateneum, January - February 1965; Oslo, Utstilling I Kunstnernes Hus, March 1965; and Otterlo, Rietveld Pavilion, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, May - July 1965.

Brought to you by

André Zlattinger
André Zlattinger

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

The present work, Pelagos [the Greek word for 'the sea'] shares its title with one of Hepworth's best-known carved works, the carved elm, stringed and part-painted Pelagos [BH 133] carved and created in 1946 (fig. 1, Tate, London). Matthew Gale and Chris Stephens suggest that this sculpture 'epitomises Hepworth's post-war sculpture. In its combination of organic form, natural material and the constructivist technique of stringing, it may be seen as a successful synthesis of the different forces in her earlier works' (see M. Gale and C. Stephens, Barbara Hepworth: Works in the Tate Gallery Collection and the Barbara Hepworth Museum St Ives, London, 1999, p. 98).

Describing the genesis of the carving Pelagos the artist comments, 'A new era seemed to begin for me when we moved into a larger house [in September 1943] high on the cliff overlooking the grand sweep of the whole of St Ives Bay from the Island to Godrevy lighthouse. There was a sudden release from what had seemed to be an almost unbearable diminution of space and now I had a studio workroom looking straight towards the horizon of the sea and enfolded (but with always the escape for the eye straight out to the Atlantic) by the arms of the land to the left and the right of me. I have used this idea in Pelagos 1946.

'The sea, a flat diminishing plane, held within itself the capacity to radiate an infinitude of blues, greys, greens and even pinks of strange hues: the lighthouse and its strange rocky island was an eye; the island of St Ives an arm, a hand, a face. The rock formation of the great bay had a withinness of form which led my imagination straight to the country of West Penwith behind me - although the visual thrust went straight out to sea. The incoming and receding tides made strange and wonderful calligraphy on the pale granite sand which sparkled with felspar and mica. The rich mineral deposits of Cornwall were apparent on the very surface of things; quartz, amethyst, and topaz; tin and copper below in the old mine shafts, and geology and pre-history - a thousand fantasies of form and purpose, structure and life, which had gone into the making of what I saw and what I was' (see H. Read, Barbara Hepworth, London, 1952, section 4).

The present work, which has remained in the same collection for forty-seven years shares the same inspiration as the carving which was its forerunner, fifteen years earlier.

We are very grateful to Dr Sophie Bowness for her assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.

More from 20th Century British & Irish Art Evening Sale including The Lord Forte Collection of Works by L.S. Lowry

View All
View All